Book Extract: That Summer in Puglia by Valeria Vescina

Today I am pleased to share something different with an extract of Valeria Vescina’s ‘That Summer in Puglia’ as the final stop on the blog tour hosted by Bookollective.


The Book

that_summer_in_pugliaThat Summer in Puglia
By Valeria Vescina
Publisher: Eyewear Publishing
ISBN: 9781912477999
Pages: 303

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Tommaso has escaped discovery for thirty years but a young private investigator, Will, has tracked him down. Tommaso asks him to pretend never to have found him. To persuade Will, Tommaso recounts the story of his life and his great love. In the process, he comes to recognise his true role in the events which unfolded, and the legacy of unresolved grief. Now he’s being presented with a second chance – but is he ready to pay the price it exacts? THAT SUMMER IN PUGLIA is a tale of love, loss, the perils of self-deception and the power of compassion. Puglia offers an ideal setting: its layers of history are integral to the story, itself an excavation of a man’s past; Tommaso’s increasingly vivid memories of its sensuous colours, aromas and tastes, and of how it felt to love and be loved, eventually transform the discomforting tone with which he at first tries to keep Will and painful truths at a distance. This remarkable debut combines a gripping plot and perceptive insights into human nature with delicate lyricism.

Purchase A Copy: Amazon  Amazon.UK  Book Depository


Extract From Chapter 4 of That Summer in Puglia

‘I wish I hadn’t fallen in love with you.  You’re going to break my heart, I know it already.’  

‘I’ll never do that.’  We kissed again. Her perfume, flowery and faint, almost made me light-headed.  ‘My God, you’re so beautiful,’ I said.

‘I hope I’m not your God.’  

We both laughed.  

Anna might have said it in jest, but that sentence – ‘I hope I’m not your God’ – has rung in my ears again and again.  Anna’s love felt like an unparalleled blessing. For her and with her I would have perfected any aspect of myself, though she made me feel loved in my entirety; for a time, she could have said the same.  If there’s a God, love between human beings can bring us as close to Him as we’ll ever get.  Cynics scoff at the mention of loves like ours, but their arguments sow misery: too many people settle for second-best in the belief they’re being ‘realistic’, and before long become cynics in turn.  Countless human beings will never experience the kind of love I’m describing, and there it was, being served to Anna and me on a plate. So young. Too young.

How, you might ask, can I have the arrogance of asserting that it wasn’t the elation of ‘first love’, or of the early phase of love, that made ours feel so extraordinary?  

The stubborn rationalist I once was – before falling in love with Anna – would almost certainly have answered by listing some facts: the generous dose of interests we shared; presumably a sprinkling of unconscious mutual needs; a fortunate correspondence and complementarity of qualities…  It wouldn’t be untrue. But it would deny the magic – the most important, yet most elusive, of all facts. How tragically reductive that would be. All I can do is to leave you with my certainty of how it felt to be loved by, and to love, Anna – and with a thought: the man who concluded that ‘The Heart knows reasons whereof Reason knows nothing’ wasn’t a hopeless romantic but a stern mathematician.  

In the days which followed the evening in Villanova, we spent every spare moment together, at and outside school.  We dived into our pasts and resurfaced with fragments of memory which the other greeted like priceless finds – stories about our childhoods, our families, friends, old schools, trips…  We shared hidden moments – the hilarious, the painful and the most embarrassing ones – without inhibitions. It’s difficult to remember examples of them now, to fish them out of what feels like a torrent.  But I do recall telling Anna of my maternal grandfather.

He and my grandmother died when I was thirteen.  During my childhood, at our customary Sunday lunch with them, he sometimes offered me two one-hundred-lire coins, provided I managed to keep them under my armpits for the whole meal – an old-fashioned method for teaching table manners.  At age five I was unable to keep my elbows stuck to my ribcage and the coins dropped within seconds onto the floor; at age seven they slid inexorably down my arms until their high-pitched ding on the ceramic tiles chimed my fiasco. Dad’s regular protestations against this practice – a surreptitious cruelty to which I was a willing party, lured by those elusive coins – provoked periods of grudging silences between him and my grandparents.  I must have been eight when at another of Grandpa’s attempts my father’s exasperation spilt over.

‘Isn’t it bad enough that you… already did this to Emma?’  

My grandfather stiffened in his chair.  ‘Did what?’

‘Drummed that pernicious sense of your family’s bygone ‘rightful place in the world’ into her head, and – now I understand – even into her movements.  You want to do the same to my son? Never.’ He poured himself a glass of wine, and took a swig.  

Grandma clutched Grandpa’s arm.  He pulled his glasses closer, the better to glare at Dad.  

Mum looked from him to her parents, and back again.  ‘How can you be so disrespectful?’ Her voice was shaky.  ‘To my father, to me…’

‘Darling, I have huge respect for you.  More than that. You’re the love of my life.  But the whole attitude behind such things – ’ he pointed to the coins on the tablecloth – ‘hasn’t done you any good, has it?’  

‘Ha!’  My mother crossed her arms.  

I watched, uneasy.  I had never witnessed a flare-up between my parents.  Dad’s humour, or Mum’s fondness for him, normally defused their little disagreements.  

‘It’s painful to watch how hard you have to work to overcome your snootiness – whether towards other guests at a party, or towards the grocer, the…’ Dad said.  ‘Being able to enjoy conversations with perfectly nice people shouldn’t require such effort. And that’s progress, compared to when we first met.’

‘You – ’ Mum stammered.  ‘Blowing things out of proportion like this.  Father was only encouraging good manners in Tommaso.  You should be grateful.’

Grandpa nodded, his eyebrows a scowl, his cheeks hollow.  

Dad sighed, and said nothing.  

But my grandfather never subjected me to the exercise of the coins again.   

So you see?  Episodes and feelings of which I had never spoken – presumably considering them unworthy of anyone’s interest or maybe fearful of others’ judgment – tumbled out of my lips and were met with understanding, warmth and humour.  To the example I have given you, I believe Anna quipped she had never thought of coins as torture instruments. I can still see her, shaking her head in sympathy as you have done, while I recounted this and other incidents, or laughing with me when I told her of happier ones.  I, in turn, couldn’t get enough of the glimpses of the life she had led until then, of the slivers of time that had gone into who she was.

‘I wish I had known you years ago,’ I kept saying.  

‘I wish I had known you, too.’  

I suppose that, through the sharing of details from our past and present, we were seeking to overcome that impossibility.  


About The Author

valeria

Valeria Vescina is from Puglia, was educated in Switzerland and the UK, and has lived for years in London with her family. After a successful career in management, she gained an MA in Creative & Life Writing at Goldsmiths (University of London). THAT SUMMER IN PUGLIA (Eyewear Publishing, 2018) is her debut novel. Her activity as a critic includes reviews for Seen And Heard International, Talking Humanities and the European Literature Network . She has taught creative writing workshops on the narrative potential of various art forms. Valeria also holds a degree in International Studies (University of Birmingham) and a Sloan Msc. in Management (London Business School).

Follow Valeria Vescina: Website  Twitter


I want to extend a special thank you to Aimee with Bookollective and the author for allowing me to particpate and providing the extract today!

Happy Reading,
Danielle ❤

Connect With Me: FacebookTwitterTumblr and Instagram

Sons of Gods Blog Tour & Excerpt

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Today I am thrilled to share an excerpt of Arthur J Gonzalez’s YA Fantasy, Sons of Gods. There is also an international, tour-wide giveaway for a $25 Amazon gift card. So make sure that enter at the end of the post.


The Book

SonsSons of Gods
By Arthur J Gonzales
ISBN: 9780988891678
Pages: 444
Genre: Fantasy/Mythology/YA

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Long ago, the wrath of the three God brothers marked the onset of the Great War. The other Gods watched in horror, until they, too, were forced to take sides. Their beloved Mt Olympus collapsed, ruin was brought to all Divine, and the Age of Darkness gripped the world in its clutches. But a group of Gods was wise, and before their impending deaths, they had crafted a pact, committing to one day rebuilding the Territories – the Heavens, Seas, and the Underworld. It would usher in the world they protected and honored out from its darkness. And from it would rise the new Greats: the Sons of Gods.

Cienzo has always had an affliction for metal and fire; never did he anticipate it would one day translate to wielding dormant powers. It is during a journey to fulfill a promise to his dying sister, that he is plunged into a dark and magical world, and where great responsibility is bestowed upon him.

Is he worthy of assuming the throne of the Territories? Can shattering steel and splitting fire change his mind?

Purchase Links: Amazon.com  Amazon.UK


The Excerpt

KAYANA

THEY HADN’T WANDERED far from the hut, but Kayana couldn’t shake the tightening in her chest. An alarming energy enveloped her. The tiny hairs on the back of her neck tingled. She sensed something. She just wasn’t sure what. Maybe it was simply for leaving Cienzo alone in the hut.
Wild animals ran around freely. A peacock here, an elephant there, a fire-eyed phoenix just beyond them. A
couple clunked by on wooden stilts, dressed in nothing but gold-feathered briefs and enormous wings fashioned to their boots. Beside them, three drunken men engaged in a sluggish sword fight.
The music blared throughout the air. It was a blissful sound, full of hard beats and energetic strings. Zendaya glanced down at her boots—which she realized had been tapping along to the rhythm. She stopped herself. She turned her focus to the drunks that paraded and stumbled around them like fools, masks drooping sloppily from their faces. She couldn’t believe how careless people were. They had drunk themselves defenseless. In the event of an attack, a blade would barely have to be lifted to take a life. It was as if death was so desperate to be granted.
“How do these people not care?” she asked, eyes set on detecting the smallest swing in the normal rhythm of the crowd.
“That’s quite the accusation,” Caleseus said. “Some would say they are here because they care. They cherish their fallen Gods and hope that celebrating them shall directly impact the state of their afterlives. I find it admirable.”
“Admirable?” She turned to face him, breaking her concentration.
His eyes lingered on a group of men and women hoisting wooden sticks attached to the bottom of long and massive paper puppets of peacocks, lions, dolphins and serpents. Beside them, women with beautifully silver- painted faces spun torches of fire above them. Magenta flames streaked the air with outlines of flowers and birds.
“To think,” he continued. “That even after all these years, their beliefs and faiths are so strong they are willing to sacrifice their safety.”
She raised a brow at a yellow-hooded carnal bent over a barrel. A man behind her chugging from a steel flask fondled her laces, trying to pry them free. “Right. So they run around like fools …all in faith? How wise.”
Caleseus turned to her and tilted his head. “You know yourself that wisdom and practicality don’t always follow the same course.”
She knew exactly what he meant and grunted. “Okay, Cal, I get it—”
A loud shriek tore through the air. Kayana felt the terror in it, and without preamble she drew her bow and arrow. The feeling in her chest. She knew it. She launched onto Caleseus’s back, feeling the contraction of his muscles beneath her hands. She glanced up and watched as a group of Roamers spilled into the Serpent’s Head, wielding sharp, double-bladed swords dripping with the appetite for destruction. Where did they come from? How had she not noticed them? They had appeared as if from thin air, riding the backs of their winged horses, the Pegasi. Each of them was robed in the Roamer’s armor: bone helmets accented by flame-engulfed wings, half-masks with painted mandible skulls that covered only the bottom half of their faces.
“Cienzo,” Kayana gasped. “We need to hurry back to him.”
Caleseus had already spun to gallop toward the pale charcoal hut. The tightening in her chest clutched its fingers around her heart. How could she have left his side? How could she have not sensed their presence? If he was injured again—or worse—it would be on her. And there was no remedy known to even the Gods that would cleanse her soul of that guilt.
She would die before allowing that to happen.


ArthurAbout the Author

Arthur J. Gonzalez is a Young Adult author of the Photo Traveler series. Originally born in Miami, FL, you can now find him living on the West side in Los Angeles. If he’s not drinking coffee or playing with his adorable Schnoodle, Sookie, then he’s probably enjoying a nap. Also, he forgets the lyrics to nearly every song.
Follow Arthur J. Gonzalez: Website  Facebook  Goodreads  Twitter


The Giveaway

  • Tour-wide & International
  • $25.00 Amazon Gift Card
  • Not sponsored or Administered by Books, Vertigo & Tea.

Enter Here


I would like to thank Xpresso Book Tours & the author for providing me with this opportunity. You can follow the tour (April 16-20) here.

Happy Reading & Good Luck!

Danielle ❤

Connect With Me: FacebookTwitterTumblr and Instagram

Drift Stumble Fall Blog Tour: Author Interview with M. Jonathan Lee

I am thrilled to take part in the Drift Stumble Fall blog tour. The book is available the 12th of April, 2018 through Hideaway Fall, and today I have a wonderful interview with author M Jonathan Lee for you.

The Book

Full-cover-final-353x539Drift Stumble Fall
By M. Jonathan Lee
Available 4/12/18
Publisher: Hideaway Fall
ISBN: 9780995492349
Pages: 310

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Richard feels trapped in his hectic life of commitment and responsibility.  From the daily mayhem of having young children, an exhausted wife and pushy in-laws who frequently outstay their welcome, Richard’s existence fills him with panic and resentment. The only place he can escape the dark cloud descending upon him is the bathroom, where he hides for hours on end, door locked, wondering how on earth he can escape.

Often staring out of his window, Richard enviously observes the tranquil life of Bill, his neighbour living in the bungalow across the road.  From the outside, Bill’s world appears filled with comfort and peace.  Yet underneath the apparent domestic bliss of both lives are lies, secrets, imperfections, sadness and suffering far greater than either could have imagined.  Beneath the surface, a family tragedy has left Bill frozen in time and unable to move on.  As he waits for a daughter who may never return, Bill watches Richard’s bustling family life and yearns for the joy it brings.  As the two men watch each other from afar, it soon becomes apparent that other people’s lives are not always what they seem.

Purchase Drift Stumble Fall:  Amazon.com  Amazon UK


Interview With M. Jonathan Lee

Before we get into books, I know that you are a very active mental health awareness campaigner and advocate. Could you tell us a bit more about that and Mind, Time to Change and Rethink today?

Yeah, sure. I lost my brother to suicide in 2004, just before my twins were born. Ten years earlier he’d already tried to take his own life (surviving a jump from a multi-storey) so mental health has always been something huge in my life. I was at a very low point when I wrote my first novel and in hindsight saw it as my legacy. Writing, without question, saved my life. I have written for the above named charities and I am working with Mind now to launch a mental health website. Something new, to keep people alive.

Were you able to draw on some of your own personal experiences while developing Drift Stumble Fall and the protagonist Richard?

Yep, absolutely. When I was very depressed, I remember clearly driving past Christmas lights in people’s windows and absolutely wishing I was them. It all looked so warm and cosy. So desirable. I would have traded lives at that moment, without even knowing what their lives were like.

What was your favorite aspect of writing Drift Stumble Fall, was there perhaps a favorite scene or specific elements that you enjoyed the most?

That’s a great question. I absolutely feel that DSF is a story of positivity. I really do. At the time I was writing it, I’d say to my wife, this is a story of hope. I loved throwing in the scenes where the family watch Jurassic Park and Titanic. Though, I absolutely loved writing Bill and Rosie’s story.

When I read, character development is everything. There has to be a certain amount of viability and connection. How do you ensure that your characters remain relatable to readers?

I always write from the perspective that I am simply chronicling something that is happening in front of me. Almost like watching a play. I am a very down to earth, observant person from the north of England. Most of my characters I have met somewhere down the line and I can almost hear them speaking when I write.

Now that you have published several titles, how has your writing process changed, or has it?

Certainly. I could spend an evening telling people how not to write. My first novels were written chronologically, with meticulous time spent making sure every sentence was perfect. There are two issues here. The first is that if you write in order you may get in from an awful day and then have to write a happy scene. This automatically causes issues because you have to try to change your mindset. Instead, if its been a bad day, I write something bad. The piecing together of the novel comes at the end. Secondly, if a sentence doesn’t work in thirty seconds, I highlight it and move on. That way everything flows. When I come to the edit I have maybe a hundred sentences to change.

I have to often wonder how authors feel about their own books being reviewed. It has to be a somewhat emotional or perhaps stressful process. Do you read your book reviews and if so, how do you handle any criticism that you encounter?

Yes, I do, and I suppose I wish I didn’t. Writing is my life; I love it. So when a new novel comes out I read perhaps that first thirty or forty reviews to make sure that people understand what I was trying to put across. If they do I’m happy. I don’t mind a bad review, after all I am comfortable that everyone can’t like everything.

How long do you spend researching before starting a new story or is this an ongoing process?

It is totally an ongoing process. I spend no time with research because I write about every day life. I write about things that happen around me, with an added twist of course.

If you had the choice to rewrite any of your books, would you?

That’s a fantastic question. Hmm. The answer is a definite no, but only because the earlier books are a snapshot in time of how I wrote then. Don’t get me wrong I am hugely proud of the first two but there are parts now, that I would write differently. Of course, part three of the trilogy is yet to come.

As a writer, which books or authors have you drawn the most inspiration from? Any recommendations?

I’ve always loved Mark Haddon. I love how he forms sentences. I also love Yann Martell and have read everything Nick Hornby.

Last but least, I always ask, do you drink tea and if so, what is your favorite blend?

I love tea. Almost black one sugar. And simple Yorkshire Tea, of course.


RLT18-200x300About the Author

M Jonathan Lee is a Yorkshire-based author and mental health awareness campaigner. He began writing seriously in 2006, shortly after the suicide of his brother, Simon, and his own struggle with anxiety and depression.  It took nearly five years for Jonathan to write his first novel, The Radio – a black- comedy which deals with suicide which was shortlisted for the Novel Prize 2012 (for unpublished authors) and subsequently published in 2013.

Jonathan campaigns tirelessly to remove the stigma associated with mental health problems and works closely with various mental health charities including MindTime to Change and Rethink, frequently blogs for the Huffington Post and is a regular guest on BBC Radio Sheffield talking about mental health. He regularly speaks in local schools and colleges on writing and mental health and is currently spearheading a local outreach project in which local churches provide assistance to those affected by anxiety and depression. Before writing full-time, Jonathan held a senior position in a FTSE100 company.  He lives in Barnsley, Yorkshire, with his second wife, five children, two cats and a dog.

Follow M. Jonathan Lee:  Website  Twitter  Facebook


Follow the Tour

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I would like to thank M. Jonathan Lee and Hideaway Fall for this opportunity and their time!

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

Connect With Me: FacebookTwitterTumblr and Instagram